February 13, 1997 -- International Aspects of Internet Business , plus Distance Education and Conferencing

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, February 13, 1997, noon to 1 PM (US Eastern Time) These sessions are scheduled for noon-1 PM US Eastern Time (GMT -4) every Thursday.

These sessions are hosted by Richard Seltzer. If you would like to receive email reminders of our chat sessions, simply send a blank email message to or go to and sign up there.

For transcripts other previous sessions and a list of future topics, click here.

For an article on how to make "business chat" work (based on this experience), click here.

Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).

Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.

Threads (reconstructed after the fact):


Richard Seltzer 11:53am ( scheduled chat is on Business on the WWW.If you are here for that discussion,please identify yourself.

We're here to share experiences about doing business on the Internet -- particularly the World Wide Web. What works? What doesn't work? Why? What are the trends that matter? How can you/should you adapt to the Internet culture and environment?

I work for the Internet Business Group at Digital Equipment inLittleton, MA. In that capacity, I end up talking to people from large companies about how they can use the Web for business.I also have my own personal Web page -- which iscontent rich and no frills -- which I do for practically nothing and draws a fair amount of traffic and attention.

In a chat session like this things can get pretty frantic. It's sometimesdifficult to follow the threads of conversation. And there's notime to write down intering URLs and facts. So each week, Itake a copy of the raw transcript and edit it to make the threadsclearer and post it at my own little Web site so anyone could takea look. You can see transcripts of previous sessions at

Harris ( ( we're a bit early

Ed Jaros - Green Bay 11:58am ( all.

Richard Seltzer 11:59am (, Harris and Ed. Harris --Yes, I was delighted to find that the room was open about 10 minutes early.So I had a chance to post some ofmy housekeeping info.Those who are joining us, please let us know who you are and what your interests are so we can get the discussion movingin useful directions.

Richard Seltzer 12:01pm (, we plan to discuss international aspects of Internet business -- translation, local language, cultural and legal barriers to on-line business; advantages and diadvantages of a local vs. a global approach to on-line business.We also want to begin a thread of discussion about distance education/training.

Richard Seltzer 12:01pm ( Ed -- What's your area of interest?

Ed Jaros - Green Bay 12:01pm ( work for an ISP, website design company in Green Bay

Harris ( 12:02pm - (, there's a big difference between. education and training

Richard Seltzer 12:03pm ( -- what issues are most pressing to you right now?(Our scheduled focus for today is on international business and also distanceeducation. Are either of those topics up your alley?)

Kaye Vivian ( 12:05pm (, all...Kaye Vivian here

Redwing12:05pm ( business onthe internet. I am working with a few companies that I feel can take advantage of the WWW outside of the USA and I want to see how others are marketing their sites in that way, also what kind of response are they getting.

Kathleen Gilroy 12:05pm ( Richard, Nacim and I are here.

Warren Agin - Law Solutions 12:06pm ( Richard. Told you I would make it this time.

Bill 12:07pm (, Bill Champitto - just got here

Jim 12:07pm ( Bill, Jim is here too!

Ed Juris12:10pm ( Jim

Warren Agin - Law Solutions 12:08pm ( Richard, I just signed up a client located in Guam. So I guess I am using the 'net in International business.

Harris (hsussman@earthlink.net12:08pm ) ( me try to get us aligned--is anyone from outside US?

Kaye Vivian ( 12:10pm (, no...New York here

Richard Seltzer 12:12pm ( --Several folks outside the US said thatthey'd be here this time --Bill Dunlap from France, and some folksfrom Nikkei, for example.

Bill Dunlap ( 12:12pm (, I'm calling in from France. Anyone here from Europe?A

Richard Seltzer 12:13pm (, Bill. We seem to be over the technical difficulties this week, and plunged in the midst of sorting through postings from about a dozen different people.

Richard Seltzer 12:19pm ( --The agenda -- we intend to continue last week's discussion about international implications of doing business on the Internet.In particular, I'd really like to gather some lists of useful resources that I could post for general use. What arethe main problems? And who are the individuals and companies that people turn to forsolutions?We also want to begin to discussion distance education -- if the audience now present wishes to pursue that.

Kaye Vivian ( 12:20pm (, it does get confusing in here at times...just tell us your thoughts on the topic you want to address and ask any will not be orderly right now, but Richard willmake sense of it all for us when he cuts and pastes the discussion back together in logical chunks! What are you doing in France?

Richard Seltzer 12:11pm ('s gratifying to see so many people on board.Feels like there are likely to be several threads going at once.1) law -- Warren, please try to handle those.2) use of conference/chat etc. in an international mode, especially for meetings, education, training etc.Does that sound right?

Legal Questions

Richard Seltzer 12:08pm ( Warren, Kathleen and Nacim --All -- Warren is a lawyer with a special interest in the Internet. We had a numberof questions last week relating to law in the international arena. Probably the most fundamental and trouble was --whose laws apply when doing a business transaction over the Internet? Where does the transaction officially take place?Is there any agreement on that issue?

Warren Agin - Law Solutions12:11pm ( - The questions you ask are very good ones, but no clear answers exist yet. From a legal standpoint, parties involved in International transactions should try to define the answers to those problems contractually.

Richard Seltzer12:15pm ( --It's easy to imagine two parties contractually agreeing what laws apply when they dobusiness with one another. But what aboutthe random, spontaneous commercial thatis expected to eventually flourish on theInternet? When I buy something at aWebsite with a credit card, what lawsapply? Those of the buyer or the seller?And if the seller, "where" is the seller?Where the company headquarters is? Orwhere the equipment is on which the site is hosted? etc. etc.

Warren Agin - Law Solutions12:19pm (, in most of those situations some contractual elements exist. For example, I suspect that the credit card agreement you sign does indicate applicable law. A lot of this is covered by treaty, although in all hony I am not familiar with the details of most of them.

Harris ( (, Hi, you know the GATT in Geneva has a Council on Invisible Trade, which is the fastest growing and perhaps the largest segment of world trade--cross-border data flow is the key to the 21st century, though China's trying to stop it...

Warren Agin - Law Solutions 12:16pm ('s right Harris. GATT and similar international treaties provide some generally acceptable trade practices governing international trade transactions. I suspect that as international trade over the Internet grows the current grey areas will be resolved based on the existing framework.

Tom Marketing Manager12:51pm ( do you think taxes will be handled?

Warren Agin - Law Solutions12:53pm ( much the same way they are now - which is to say unpredictably. Arthur Anderson has a useful publication called "Taxation in Cyberspace." Send an e-mail to and ask for a copy.

Kaye Vivian ( 12:55pm (, thanks for the AA tip...I'll be interested to check that out myself.

NetObjects Fusion

Richard Seltzer 12:06pm (, Kay. Last week you sent email with info about a product to help make sites language/international friendly.Would you like to say something more about that?

Kaye Vivian ( 12:09pm (, I was talking about the new version of NetObjects Fusion...I have found it to be a wonderful web sitemanagement program..the closest thing I have seen to a desktop publisher for web sites. And it has an option that will automatically create (on the fly, I guess) a text-only version of your web site for it offers the option to have a second-language version. I haven't yet experimented with it...I am working on a Spanish-English web site now and plan to see what it does, so I can report back next time. :)

Business Conferencing

Kaye Vivian ( 12:06pm ( I'm interested in continuing our discussion about using conferencing capabilities for business purposes.

Kaye Vivian (kvivian@cloud9.net12:32pm (, I desperately need the same capability in conferencing, and I agree...we may be pushing the limits. With all due respect to AltaVista, the Forum area is disorganized, graphically rich and functionally poor, and next to impossible to use (I've had communications with the coordinator there). I do actually like this chat capability, but I've learned that it has some limitations (such as lack of ability to capture the running dialog on the spot, which is important if you are a facilitator who wants to sort and repost the discussion). I just don't really know of others that can do the job. I'm very open to suggion. One week Harold Messias was here from Web Chat (I think) and I checked out his product. It seems very good, but it was more geared to "social" chat, and I really want to focus on business meetings for groups from 2 to 100.

Kaye Vivian ( 12:18pm ( of the web sites I manage is for a client with 40 U.S. offices and member firms in over 75 countries. We are planning to abolish "public" communication via a forum and/or live conference area on the web site this year. So far language and culture have not been issues for us. I wonder if anyone has experience with facilitating such activities or can recommend any software that is particularly good? I have talked to AltaVista Forum, used Microsoft NetMeeting and am trying now to work with the new Netscape Communicator products (but haven't figured out which is which try harder. {g} --).

Richard Seltzer 12:21pm ( --Yes, I'm also very interested in international aspects of chat/conferencing.yesterday, I saw a demo at Digital of a next generation chat product with some very interesting capabilities --the ability, for instance, to have a main chat area split off into numerous subrooms to pursue separate discussion threads. I desperately need that capability right now. We seem to be stretching the limits of this software.

Richard Seltzer12:37pm ( -- regarding AltaVista Forum contact David Marques I just got a demo yesterday from him ofthe next generation version -- which has the multiple chat rooms, easy navigationfrom one to another; it's Java-based so you see everything as soon as it'styped, without having to keep clicking.Looks very good. Check it out if you can.

Jim 12:44pm ( All, Richard is David Marquess Javachat beta available to download?

Kaye Vivian (kvivian@cloud9.net12:39pm ( do, Richard. I have to say, Digital will have to go a bit of a distance with me to overcome the bad feelings I had toward the ForumForum site and the first response I had. try harder. {grin} -- The next person who posted was better, but that site is in serious need of urgent CGI assistance...

Richard Seltzer 12:35pm ( conferencing --obviously from our own direct experience with this chat session -- chat can be exhilarating, and it can convey a lot of information in a hurry, with people in numerous countries participating at once. But not everyone can type this fast. And not everyone and not every group can cope with the inherent anarchy of the present day software. Next generation with multiple side rooms and some control for the moderator to move new discussion threads to new little side rooms will be very important for making this a real education tool.

Richard Seltzer 12:38pm ( chat,I just wrote an article based on my experience with this -- trying to layout all the little details that canprove important. It's in the latest issue of my newsletter Internet-on-a-Disk [reaction from Betsy Campbell]

Kaye Vivian ( 12:43pm ( of chat, my own experience is limited to about 6-8 different chat settings I have participated in. One of the earliest is the Compuserve conference rooms in the Forum/SIG areas. They are pretty archaic, but do work adequately for private groups (if you want to pay the added CIS charges). One thing I do like is the ability to have side conversations in private with someone in the group room...special little windows that pop up for 2-way dialog while a main discussion is going on. Do most conferencing programs have this capability? For example, can we do that here on


Frank Moran12:10pm - (, I would like to discuss what people think about one very powerful marketing aspect of the Internet, and that is One-to-One marketing and the ability to market to virtual communities, such as this one for example.

Richard Seltzer12:17pm ( --it's interesting thinking in terms of One-to-One marketing and virtual communities at the same time. They are probably quite different, or rather at two different points on the same scale.In this chat, for example, while there is a common thread of interest among us all -- Internet business -- there is a lots of diversity as well.

Ed Jaros 12:31pm ( business on the internet. I am working with a few companies that I feel can take advantage of the WWW outside of the USA and I want to see how others are marketing their sites in that way, also what kind of response are they getting. 


Harris ( ( for email allows Cyrillic, which Netscape mail doesn't--also, you know about Hotmail, which lets you check in to email from anywhere in the world, which I can't do otherwise...

Merchant credit card accounts for doing international business

Bill Dunlap ( ( Richard.Would like to ask a very pertinent question to doing Net business "U.S. export", using credit cards. My company has been rejected several times for being a merchant and taking credit cards (we're a U.S. corp.), because we sell to non-Americans. Has anyone found a way around this hurdle with U.S. banking regulations? Apparently U.S. banks won't let small businesses take non U.S. credit cards.

Richard Seltzer12:23pm ( Dunlap --I run a very tiny business. All my business takes place on the Internet.And I have a merchant credit card account.My reason for doing credit card business is that simplifies international currencyissues -- no need to pay for currencyexchanges. Send me email and I send you info about Card Service, the outfit I have the account with. They charge high rates,but they do service tiny businesses.

Distance Education

Kathleen Gilroy12:23pm ( have a question about distance education--doeseveryone feel the web is sufficiently powerful to use as a classroom medium or should it besupplemented/supplement satellite and video delivery of courseware?

Sudha Jamthe ( ( Richard! Sorry I am late. Have you moved to the discussion about distance learning already?

Richard Seltzer 12:29pm ( --Yes, the beginnings of discussion aboutdistance education/conferencing etc.are lingering in the background.Kathleen Gilroy, from Kathleen Gilroy Associates just posted a question.My opinion is that the technology is promising but isn't complete yet; that real distance education still requiresyou to mix media. The Internet does a lot, but not everything. Reactions? Opinions?

Sudha Jamthe ( 12:30pm ( Kathleen, About online classes:I believe online classes are a powerful possibility from my experience of online classes at web-net group.But, people still feel the need to associate a face to the tutor.

Harris ( ( said classroom? Do you mean physical place? I'd like your email to talk later

Richard Seltzer 12:32pm ( --I suspect that is more than just a "face".There's still some element of a need for physical presence -- at least more of apresence than can be conveyed over the internet. I believe that the Internet can speed up learning, just as it can speed up decision-making, and it ma ycut down on the need for face-to-face.But the personal direct element doesn't seem to go away.

Kathleen Gilroy12:32pm -- ( think that the web is most useful for management issues around live courses. But I would like some ideas about on-line courses people favor to take a look.

Kathleen Gilroy12:35pm ( deliver our courses via satellite and dial-up videoconferencing and are contemplating using the web for asynchronous activities suc has homework, study hall, course management. By the way, we now go under the company name of Otter, Inc. Online, Training, Technical, and Educational Resources.

Kathleen Gilroy 12:36pm ( know of a start-up called Centra that is developing what they call choreography, specifically to manage student/teacher interaction. This could be great for chat.

Kathleen Gilroy (kgcambridge@worldnet.att.net12:39pm (, how do you see chat working in an educational setting?

Sudha Jamthe ( 12:39pm (, I agree.Kathleen: We've started online classes teaching web page design. We've heard requsests for a seminar type classes on business aspects of the web. But I think students should be web surfers comfortable with reading online.I would call this chat as the best example of an evolving form of online learning.

Sudha Jamthe ( 12:42pm (, how do you see the chat evolving to an online class room experience. What are some of the advantages. Do you see the need for change in technology like high-speed or is it more from people?

Kathleen Gilroy (kgcambridge@worldnet.att.net12:42pm ( you familiar with UniveristyOn-Line. They are developing on-line courses and could help you with marketing of you classes. If this is for the nonprofit world, we have a teleconference for Peter Drucker's foundation coming up in September that might be of inter to you or to your audience

Kaye Vivian ( 12:45pm (, in a classroom setting, especially with groups with little typing experience, the keyboard to keyboard method is challenging. Especially when you get a lot of people posting messages almost at once. OTOH, maybe it's easier for the young ones to comprehend and keep up...I may just be getting old!try harder. {g} -- Still, typing (whether in business meetings onlineor live seminars online or classroom discussions) is the limiting factor, IMO.

Richard Seltzer 12:47pm ( --I see the main value of "scheduled chat" as for brainstorming. When there is a particular time when all have to be connected, there's an element of urgency. there'salso an element of spontaneous creativity --the questions and responses stimulate youto think and react in new ways.Then throw in RealAudio for languagetraining or even some golden words from the professor. Through in Forum forslower-paced reasoned discussion andfor easy posting of documents (students post their papers and comment on one another'swork and see the comments of the professor).CUSeeMe for live real-time video for hands on training on how to fix things,etc. Internet Phone for language practice with native speakers anywhere in theworld. But the software that ties these capabilities together into an education environment doesn't seem mature yet.And non-Internet interaction probablystill has to be part of the mix.And if you depend a lot on Forum etc.,you'd probably need an extra body in the mix -- a facilitator (who is different from the instructor or moderator) andwho tries to get a higher percentage of the people really engaged.

Warren Agin - Law Solutions12:47pm ( the last I-World I saw a demo of an online 3d world with streamed video. Assuming sufficient bandwith (prob. available in some places) would that kind of product prove useful.

Richard Seltzer 12:51pm ( --Regarding bandwidth, some countries, particularly in the Far East, are making massive invments in infrastructure.Countries like Malaysia and Singapore may well have very high bandwidth available at very low cost very soon. In those areasthe online video/audio kinds of things could work very well. Elsewhere it will take much longer to reach the point where those are truly useful for business and education.

Kathleen Gilroy (kgcambridge@worldnet.att.net12:48pm ( from an expensive audio conference, this is currently the only cost-effective way to have this kind of discussion with multiple users. My concern is with the educational quality of web-based courses as they typically mimic CDROM's, rather than foster exchange between/among people.

Richard Seltzer 12:49pm ( -- amen regarding the need for true interaction and participation --not just static materials to readfor education over the Internet to work.

Kathleen Gilroy ( 12:50pm - ( UMASS/Boston, they are using the cable network to send course out to high schools and CUCmefor pictures of students back to faculty. Richard, are you sugging that we jury-rigthese applications for the time being until thesoftware matures? Do you think that thereis a market for an integrated package that does distance learning or will the components off the shelf work just as well?

Richard Seltzer 12:53pm ( --For today, I would jury-rig what you need when you need it -- including whatever off the shelf parts are available. Yes, the areas with high-bandwidth cable TV connectionsfor Internet would look particularly interesting as opportunities. Particularly when you think of combining sending old-fashioned video over those cable lines as well as doing multimedia Internet things.


Ed Jaros - Green Bay 12:24pm ('ve been folowing the conversation. Richard, do you know any companies out their that specialize in translating web sites to other languages for posting. In Green Bay I would have a problem posting a site for a client that does business internationally.

Warren Agin - Law Solutions12:25pm (, there's an outfit in Cambridge, Mass that handles Japanese.

Bill Dunlap ( 12:27pm (, my company deals with translated Web sites quite a bit. Please write me and I'll give you some references.

Ed Jaros - Green Bay 12:27pm ( firms out their that do multiple translations?

Richard Seltzer 12:27pm ( --Check the Web site of Globalink http://www.globalink.comThey have some automated translationsoftware and related services that soundvgood. But I have not worked themmyself. Do others have suggestions regarding translation?

Warren Agin - Law Solutions12:28pm - ('ve heard that automated translation is very dangerous since errors tend to pop up.

Richard Seltzer12:30pm ( --Globalink does multiple translations.But you'll have to judge the quality for yourself.

Kaye Vivian ( 12:37pm (, I agree that automated translations are risky. I don't know why you would need a web service company to do that though...why not just contact a local translation service (through one of the English as a second language schools or something) and have them furnish you the document ready to code into HTML? Seems to me the problem is getting the translation, not getting it on the web. As to reaching more people in other countries, don't forget that accessing the Internet is quite limited in many non-Wern countries, and the problem with reaching your market may actually be that people don't have wide enough access.

Bill ( 12:32pm ( problem regarding localization is nothing new for text. HTTP supports unicode, and a properly designed system will handle multi-lingual issues. Doesn't this discussion however include web design as well as translation?

Tim Greenwood12:33pm -- ( are many localization companies. The magazine "Multilingual Communications&Technology" has many advertisments.

Richard Seltzer12:39pm ( --Do you have a URL for that multilingual publication?

Tim Greenwood 12:44pm ( magazine "Multilingual Communications&Technology" was previously called "Multilingual Computing"It has some intering articles, but the primary use is as a very valuable listof localization resources. The magazine has a rather spotty publication history and frequency - issue #12 just came out. No URL, but email is

Richard Seltzer 12:42pm ( the need for translation --let's face it, commerce on the Internetis in its infancy; access in Europe is far more costly than here; very lowbandwidth is common outside the US.There's lots of promise to the Internet,but as was noted last week, much of the international business happening on theInternet today is probably happening byway of email rather than Web sites.Or the Web site is like a sign in theroad, and the real place of business, thereal environment for interaction is elsewhere.We need to be ready, we need to be sensitiveto language issues. Five years from now,language will probably be critical.But today, it probably is translation ofemail more than translation of Webcontent that is a crucial business issue.

Cultural and other issues

Kaye Vivian (kvivian@cloud9.net12:24pm (, I was not here for last week's discussion, so my comments may be a little off-point. All I can think to contribute right now is a resource that some people may not think to use...All of the Big Six accounting firms publish series of books, usually called something like "Doing Business In...". I remember that Price Waterhouse, for example, had a very extensive collection ofwell-done booklets that anyone could get, usually free for asking. You might be able to get such things from visiting the International web sites of the Big Six firms. Ernst & Young had a subscription binderservice along the same lines. They cover government, tax regulations, cultural issues, etc. Very useful and helpful resources. I haven't checked recently...perhaps some of them have on-line versions up now.

How to grow visibility overseas for one's Web site

Bill Dunlap ( 12:31pm- ( of the main issues once one has translated some of the more important Web pages of one's site is simply visibility overseas. How do you attract Germans, Japanese, Spanish-speaking and French-speaking visitors to your site? Of course, there are some resources like the Website promotion companies in the U.S., but they are extremely difficult to find (and usually you have to read the other language(s) in order to search the indexes). Does anyone have any ideas about growing visibility overseas for one's Website?

Video Conferencing for Recruiting on College Campuses

Kaye Vivian ( 12:54pm (, you reminded me of a tangential issue at universities...did anyone see the news story last week that GE (or GM..sorry, I forget which) had started to do live online recruiting on college campuses via video conferencing? They installed $5K video conference computers at the 30 top universities they recruit from and their recruiters conduct live interviews online. Cool idea, and it saves the businesses a lot of money for traveling to college campuses. And I think the students like it...less intimidating, neat to use the technology, etc.

Warren Agin - Law Solutions12:55pm ( you don't have to wear pants to the interview. :)

Kathleen Gilroy (kgcambridge@worldnet.att.net12:56pm ( Kaye, I didn't see the article but organizations have been interview/recruiting using videoconferencing for some time. I remember a story about Frito Lay where they would zoomin on a person's feet to see if they were nervous during the interview.

Kaye Vivian ( 12:57pm ('s spooky..seems they would need to make that kind of possibility clear during the pre-interview process!! wow..imagine that!try harder. {g} 


Richard Seltzer 12:54pm ( -- time is racing again.I want to continue this discussion nextweek. Please all, before you sign offlet us know your email and URL addressesso we can continue these discussions.

Richard Seltzer12:55pm ( -- I'll post the transcript to this session as soon as I can (I have towait for to send me the raw material, then I'll edit it to hopefully more understandable threads).Check

Kaye Vivian ( 12:55pm ( Vivian ( ...Thanks all. Useful, interesting and stimulating as always! :)

Warren Agin - Law Solutions12:56pm (, everyone. WAgin@agin.com

Tim Greenwood 12:56pm ( am at

Ed Jaros - Green Bay 12:57pm ( Enjoyed the discussion. Thanks all for the input.

Kaye Vivian (kvivian@cloud9.net12:58pm - ( all. :)

Jim Lindenthal@bigfoot.com1:00pm ( Richard, Sorry I joined late. Got caught up in an endless meeting. See you next week.

Kathleen Gilroy (kgcambridge@worldnet.att.net12:58pm ( Richard--asta la vista or is that alta vista?

Richard Seltzer12:56pm ( -- please send me email with your followup comments and questions forpossible posting with the transcript.Also send me email to be added to our chat reminder email

Richard Seltzer 12:57pm ( -- Sorry about the confusion last week.Looks like did an excellent job of fixing the technical difficulties.Now I have to catch up on the transcripts.I'm sorry to say that last week's transcript still isn't up. I have another hour's work to do on that before I can post it.Please read when you get a chance

Richard Seltzer 12:58pm ( -- next week I'll push again for the folks from Nikkei to join us. Ifyou have non-US business contacts, pleaseencourage them to tune in. We need togive our international discussion more of an international flavor.

Thanks to all for your participation. Please join us again next week.Same time.


Pointer to good info on distance learning

From: Harris Sussman <> Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 06:27:54 -0800

Check the full article at Here's the title and

first couple paragraphs:

December 12, 1996

The learning Web
WBT brings the classroom to users' desktops--eliminating costly travel. But there are still some bandwidth issues to be resolved

By Erin Callaway

"As far as General Motors Corp.'s Bill Maclear is concerned, a person shouldn't have to fly halfway across the country or chase down colleagues over voice mail simply to learn something. Instead, Maclear is bringing education to them--over GM's corporate intranet.

"Starting in the first quarter of 1997, 600 GMSPO (GM Service Parts Operations) field managers in about 500 locations across the United States will be able to use four new interactive World Wide Web-based training modules to be schooled in everything from running a profitable GM dealership to the fundamental concepts of an automotive drive train and electronic components. ..."

Reaction to article on "how to make 'business chat' work

From: "B. Campbell" <> Date: Mon, 10 Feb 1997 18:55:47 -0800

What a wonderful article [] on a topic that needs much exploration and explanation. Here are the things that come to mind as I read it:

1) There's a lot of confusion out there about when it is better to use chat and when it is better to use asynchronous methods of communication. For example, I was involved with a group that loved the idea of chat. So they forced people around the world to log in at the same time to receive a pre-written update of affairs. This is clearly something that would have been handled better as an asynch posting with real-time follow up on particular issues.

2) Along this same line, I've seen a lot of people in chats focus on the chat (the typing, the excitement of real-time interaction, etc.) instead of the information. It takes people some time to acclimate and let the chat function become invisible. If you're hosting a chat, you should be aware of the likely chat sophistication of the user group.

People believe the "if you build it...." concept when it comes to chat, and it isn't necessarily so. Yes, chat has immediacy, and this can help stimulate users to drop by. However, you need to have some reach, a critical mass of some number, before a chat can really sizzle. In most cases, it just isn't cost effective for a company to pay the moderator(s) plus guest(s) when only a handful of consumers come to the chat.

3) As an extension to the 'team meetings' that you mention, I think role playing activities are well suited to chats. For example, if I belong to a career counseling site, small groups of us can be assigned to role play the interview process (job seeker, HR person, an observer or two). Then in real time or asynch all of the small groups can come together and review what happened, what worked, etc. In this particular example (job interview role play), chat has unique properties that don't exist in other media. It is immediate because of the real-time element, however, it is much slower than a face-to-face role play. This in-between timing can help the role player have a higher awareness of how they're navigating the situation.

I'm so glad to see you writing on this topic! And thanks for letting me read it! I hope my notes are useful. Feel free to bounce things like this off of me at any time.


Info and Suggestions from Su of Web-Net

From: Sudha Jamthe <> Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 13:00:58 -0500

I am very glad that you came to our meeting last night and we could meet briefly.

Dan Houseman, founder of Virtuflex ( will be a good candidate to join next chat about tools for threaded discussions. Dan is a good speaker and spoke at Web-Net few months back. Their software Virtuflex facilitates threaded discussions and is important in the future of online classes setup.

I am writing to Dan about the chat. You can reach him at


From: Sudha Jamthe <> Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 14:50:43 -0500

My connection slowed down by 12.45 and I had to leave the chat in the middle. Can't wait too see the transcript.

This is still a thought: Maybe we can deliver the transcript every week from Coola (

Last week during the chat I mentioned about a Worldwide software distributer site and I promised to get the site URL, but I didn't get the email of the person who was interested. So, maybe you can mention it in the transcript. It is


Cheetah Broadcasting's Cybercasting

From: Steve Markey Sent: Thursday, February 13, 1997 2:05 PM

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Pricing varies based upon formats and services required, as well as the length of the communication. For a one-hour one-time only event, Cheetah Broadcasting charges $350 for an unmoderated text, audio, and graphic event. Multiple commitments may offer economies of scale.

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On-line Internet/Intranet Live Customer Service

(excerpts from a press release related to our recent discussions. Richard Seltzer)

From: Internet News Bureau <> Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 10:09:43 -0800

Subject: PR TECH: EveNTs Software Announces CENTS for On-line Internet/Intranet Live Customer Service

CONTACT: Carolyn Ann Walgren, EveNTs Software Products, Inc.,cwalgren@eventssoftware.com

FORT WORTH, TX -- February 14, 1997 (INB) -- EveNTs Software Products, Inc. (EveNTs) today announced Customer EveNTs System (CENTS), the first affordable Internet/Intranet based Call Center solution that doesn't require telephone calls.

CENTS provides electronic commerce, reservation systems and other web sites with Call Center capability. Customer EveNTs System (CENTS) incorporated with Microsoft NetMeeting, Internet Information Server and SQL Server offers direct chat, voice and video contact capability with sales and customer service staff over the very same connection that brought your customer to your Web site. CENTS provides advanced call routing servicesand customer service tools and can be adapted to handle Call Center applications of any size.

CENTS is a Web site add-on providing customer service features across the Internet to any customer service group, anywhere in the world. The customer service person can exist almost anywhere on the Internet and is in not tied to the location of the Web site.

CENTS provides all of the traditional standard call-routing features. The Internet customer will simply click on a link for assistance and CENTS will handle the rest. What CENTS does while connecting to a 'live' person is collect information about the customer and what they were doing on the Web site. All of this data is passed to a selected customer service representative (CSR) so they can specifically address the needs of the customer. The routing of the call to the CSR can be based on advanced call-center principles such as: area of knowledge/expertise required; next available CSR; load balancing between CSR's and Call Center locations; best maching of skill set and appropriate language capability.

"Currently most Web sites require the user to disconnect from the Internet to make an 800# phone call to the store to get help", said Kevin Culver, President, EveNTs Software Products. "With CENTS, they can get help directly on-line from a qualified CSR who already knows what they were doing before they asked for assistance."

CENTS is a trademark of EveNTs Software Products, Inc. Microsoft, SQL Server, Internet Information Server and NetMeeting are trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation.

Interactive Foreign Exchange Internet Site

(exerpts from a press release related to our recent discussions. Richard Seltzer)

From: Philip Walker <> Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 13:20:36 -0500

Thomas Cook Foreign Exchange for Business (


Real-Time Currency Exchange, Business Tools for Managing International Payments

TORONTO, ONTARIO (February 13, 1997)--Worldwide travel and financial services company Thomas Cook today announced the launch of the Internet's first interactive foreign exchange web site at, providing companies with state-of-the-art tools for the successful management of international payments.

The site's focal point, the "Virtual Trading Desk," provides the first real-time foreign exchange over the Internet, facilitating foreign payments through its speed and accessibility. A system that recalls previous order information to expedite repeat orders and the ability to place orders from any Internet-ready computer anywhere in the world make Thomas Cook's already fast and dependable foreign exchange services even more convenient. In addition to improving order times and enabling flexibility, the site provides easy-to-reference information to help manage international business.

"Our customers need real-time, online convenience for their foreign exchange transactions because it saves critical time and allows their employees to focus on other important aspects of their jobs. In addition, today's business environment dictates that a large amount of time be spent outside the office. The Virtual Trading Desk responds directly to this trend by giving our customers the flexibility to make international payments from the road if needed," said Yasser El-Riffaey, Senior Vice President Corporate Financial Services, North America. ...

The Virtual Trading Desk was developed for Thomas Cook by Internet Marketing Associates Inc. (IMA) of Toronto.

Need Advice for Long-Distance Learning Project with Ghana

From: Wayne Jacoby <> Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 12:52:35 -0500 (EST)

At 11:50 am I tried to log onto the site. One hour later it was still transferring data and I was not linked to you!

I tested it last week and visited another chat session at and I was there in seconds. Do you know what might have caused me not to get in? Too many people?

I wanted to be part of your session today because of the Ghana/UNA long distance learning project I want to set up at Chestnut Hill College. I will visit your home page to get the discussion, but I missed a good opportunity to raise my own questions.

One of the Global Institute projects I am proposing is to link Chestnut Hill College staff with Ghanaian women via Internet Long Distance Learning in conjunction with Ghana/UNA and their establishment of a new college for women outside of Accra. I have been personally asked by Ghana/UNA to do this. The details of what they will have on their end to do this is still unclear, but they said they can set up some communication links via a local tv station. The college is not even built yet.

I have an interest from a local foundation to contribute $2000 towards this project. Some of the $ could be used to provide hardware/software such as a tripod camera for a live discussion. If computers are needed I will try to get some used ones donated.

Ghana/UNA wants Global Education Motivators/Chestnut Hill College to help their women learn about a variety of issues.


I have been to your Web Site and read some of your earlier chat discussions. I will look forward to seeing your latest one on Long Distance Learning.

Wayne Jacoby, Global Education Motivators

Reply -- I'll add your query to the transcript in hopes that others have answers. In the meantime, use AltaVista to check out what's available in Ghana. Also, send your questions to

That's a distribution list for university folk involved with Africa in one way of another (many of them are professors who teach courses related to Africa. If you are going to be doing some long-term work related to Ghana, you should subscribe. -- Richard Seltzer

Looking for merchant credit card service for Internet vendors

From: Euro-Marketing Associates <> Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 12:42:53 +0100

You mentioned in yesterday's chat show that you know of a merchant bank that allows its merchants to sell to non-Americans. Could you please send me the relevant information? I'm just so frustrated about the U.S. banking system not allowing small companies to sell outside the U.S. without kicking them out of merchant status. That's a helluva note for Internet business, with the globalization of business!

Bill Dunlap,

REPLY -- The company is Card Service. I'll email you details when I get home. -- Richard

From: Euro-Marketing Associates <> Date: Sat, 15 Feb 1997 13:46:39 +0100

I used Card Service to get me hooked up in the first place. Cost $1200 in Sept. '95, they hooked me up with American Midwest Bank. When American Midwest found out that I was selling to non-Americans (God knows how they found out), they revoked my account. So now I'm out $1200 for setting up the account.

Then I tried a bank that was recommended on I-Sales Digest, and was accepted, until they found out that I sell to anyone in the world, not just Americans. They rejected my application this week.

The next time I make out an application, I think I'll just lie and won't mention anything about the rest of the world except the U.S. What a ridiculous situation for doing global business!

Bill Dunlap


That's bizarre about your experience with Card Service. I believe that they have a number of relatively independent reps in charge of various parts of the country, who cut deals in a variety of ways and then get them approved by headquarters. I paid something on the order of about $250 to get set up. And I pay about $40 a month rental on the silly machine and about $30 a month in service fees. I do very little business -- most months, just sell enough to pay the fees. But I keep it going because I expect to do more business in the future, and it's convenient to be all set up.

Have you considered contacting First Security or Mark Twain -- the Internet-only banks. Perhaps they have sense enough to fill this obvious need reasonably and simply. -- Richard

ANOTHER REPLY -- Just in case it's a different company with a similar name. I deal with James Greenbaum of Cardservice of New England, 44 Seminole Rd., Acton, MA 01720. 508-635-9775. He's affiliated with Cardservice International, PO Box 23110, Agoura Hills, CA 91376-2310. customer service # 800-456-5989. -- Richard

Distance Learning Resource

From: Harris Sussman <> Date: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 14:49:06 -0800

"The United States Distance Learning Association is a non-profit association formed in 1987 by Patrick Portway, Dr. Smith Holt of Oklahoma State University and Dr. Ralph Mills of California State University. The association's purpose is to promote the development and applicaition of distance learning for education and training. The constitutents we serve include K through 12 education, higher education, continuing education, corporate training, and military and government training.

"Toward this purpose the United States Distance Learning Association convened a National Policy Forum in July 1991 to develop and publish a set of National Policy Recommendations that have been the basis of legislative and administrative proposals in education and telecommunications policy.

"The association has become the leading source of information and recommendations for government agencies, Congress, industry and those entering upon the development of distance learning programs. USDLA began a process in 1993 of establishing chatpers in all fifty states. In addition, USDLA holds annual meetings with leaders of distance learning programs in Europe and Asia." 

Distance Education -- Looking for suggestions for a new training site, also observations on the participation problem

From: Tracy Marks <> Date: Thu, 20 Feb 1997 01:07:48 -0500

I really wish I could attend your chat (I work part-time as a counselor, part time as an Internet instructor) but have clients till 12:45. As I wrote you once before, I read all your transcripts after the fact, and recommend them on some of the lists I'm on...Nettrain, EdTech etc.

At the bottom of this message are some of my questions, issues etc. regarding making distance education work....

In any case, I wanted to let you know that my Internet and Windows 95 training site, Windweaver, opened a week ago - and I took your suggestions to keep it simple!! (except for a lot of small graphics). Am going to offer an online search skills course starting in six weeks so I'm particularly interested in the distance education discussion.

(I currently teach the course as an 8-hour workshop at the Cambridge Center for Adult Ed, monthly - next workshop is Saturday)

Meanwhile, I'm already having inquiries from out of the U.S. about how to pay for the course, and am in the process of getting a Pioneer First Virtual account. But I don't know anyone who has used them a seller yet.

In regard to distance education, my experience having taken two online courses is that most students don't have the motivation to follow through on lessons unless there is a compelling means of interaction. Having to attend a chat session takes a bit of effort and scheduling; visiting a site and reading the message boards is easily postponed.

In a recent online marketing course I took on the Net (based in Cambridge, but with 10 weekly lessons online), the instructor, Dave Lash, created a listserv so that students could communicate easily with each other and the instructor. This was very effective to some extent - because communications arrived in our mailbox, and students did respond to each other, and even bonded enough to arrange a few in-person lunch meetings.

But half the students did not follow through on the assignments, and did not participate in the listserv. Online dialogue was sporadic.

I find myself continually wondering what might have catalyzed further dialogue and involvement - perhaps...

---easier-to-complete assignments, so that students didn't feel hesitant to participate because they hadn't spent six hours doing the homework

---specific thought-provoking questions that provoke discussion via the listserv (or via a chat)

---some work in partners or teams. When people feel responsible to another person, they are more likely to overcome their inertia, follow through, and ultimately benefit.

In any case, I appreciate all that you are offering on the Net and look forward to reading the transcript of tomorrow's chat. If I can arrive in the last 15 minutes, I will...

Tracy Marks

RESPONSE -- Regarding your distance education experience, I suspect that special skills are required to get students involved in the on-line experience, to make them participants rather than just spectators, and that that is essential to learning. It may take an on-line facilitator to actively query, prod, provoke, and inspire the class -- someone with special on-line human-interaction skills, who plays a role like a meeting facilitator. Such a person could conceivably play that role for numerous classes at once, and could be located remotely, and could perform this service for more than one school. I can imagine a whole new kind of career, to support this whole new kind of business model. -- Richard

Previous transcripts and schedule of upcoming chats --

To connect to the chat room, go to

The full text of Richard Seltzer's books The Social Web, Take Charge of Your Web Site, Shop Online the Lazy Way, and The Way of the Web, plus more than a hundred related articles are available on CD ROM My Internet: a Personal View of Internet Business Opportunities.

Web Business Boot Camp: Hands-on Internet lessons for manager, entrepreneurs, and professionals by Richard Seltzer (Wiley, 2002). No-nonsense guide targets activities that anyone can perform to achieve online business
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